Blood Youth – ‘Starve’ review

A hype-hopping exercise from the innovation-lacking metalcore bunch, this is more of a tribute to Slipknot than a boundary pushing record in its own right

Blood Youth’s second LP, ‘Starve’ sounds like cuttings from the studio floor of Iowa ninesome Slipknot. Those heavily compressed guitar tones and the stop-start song structures are carefully constructed to feel dynamic and dangerous, this album doesn’t quite achieve either – instead, it’s a feat of hero worship from beginning to end. There’s little fault to be found in idolising Slipknot – any heavy band worth their salt should do so – but in their refusal to push the boat any further than Breakdown Island, Blood Youth prove their imagination extends only as far as imitation.

Opening instrumental ‘{51/50}’ does a sterling job of scene-setting, all gauzy electronics and horror movie crackle. From there, it’s tick-box metalcore. Low-slung riffs and snares are tuned so high they sound made out of plywood abound, each guitar line or swinging beat sounding lifted from Korn or the ‘Knot’s respective times in the sun. ‘Waste Away’ does a valiant effort of lifting things out of the murk with the addition of symphonic synth work, but the refusal to explore any of these textures any further is beyond frustrating.

‘Keep You Alive’, a track touted by the band as their most boundary pushing effort to date, could only be considered such by comparison to the rest of the record. The strained, semi-spoken vocals sit comfortably between Corey Taylor and Fred Durst on the angst spectrum, while the sludgy backing is a lazy attempt at dynamics. It’s nu-metal bingo – even 11-minute closer ‘Exhale’ does nothing to justify its duration, instead just coming off like 20 derivative riffs stitched together, rather than the customary ten.

A different vibe to the punkier efforts of their debut ‘Beyond Repair’, Blood Youth’s second full-length has been touted as something of a switch-up – though in reality, it’s little more than a hype-hopping exercise, the band chasing down a nu-metal revivalist buck that appears to have already jumped the shark. At a time when hardcore and metal are making bold new leaps, with some of music’s most experimental and innovative wares coming from the heavier end of the spectrum, a switch from one generic influence to another just isn’t enough to warrant claims of reinvention.

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